Lector's Notes

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

In reading this, pronounce the names of the servants confidently. It doesn’t matter how you accent them; just don’t stumble on them verbally and thereby distract the congregation from the story. Note that the larger story of Acts continues, “The word of God continued to spread.” Make that an important part of your proclamation, too.

Second Reading

Peter contrasts those who accept Jesus as their cornerstone with those who stumble on the stone. As is often the case when a New Testament writer quotes the Old Testament, meanings are not immediately clear to us twenty centuries later. To help the congregation get this, study the passage carefully, until YOU get it, until each sense-line makes sense to you and fits into a logical whole in YOUR mind. That’s the best favor you can do for those who will hear your proclamation.

Introductions

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

Pagan converts in the early church knew that their joining provoked some controversy. Saint Luke’s second book for them, the Acts of the Apostles, tells a story of an earlier conflict among Christians of Jewish stock.

Second Reading

Our ancestors in the faith had long been slaves, nomads and exiles, without a permanent home. The author of the First Letter of Peter uses images of stone buildings, drawn from the Hebrew Bible, to encourage early Christian pilgrims.

Gospel

Some early Christians needed help in making a complete commitment to Jesus. In sympathy for them, John the Evangelist depicts an apostle as not fully understanding who Jesus is. But Jesus also makes demands of his followers that are uncompromising.

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Acts 6: 1-7

Section of a fresco in the Niccoline Chapel by Fra Angelico, depicting Saint Peter consecrating the Seven Deacons. Saint Stephen is shown kneeling.

The appointment of the seven

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

FIRST READING—As the Christian community grows in numbers, there is conflict around the care for poor widows. It seems that Greek-speaking Jewish widows do not receive the same care as widows living in Jerusalem. This has also caused a problem for the Apostles. In caring for the widows, time set aside for the preaching of the word has been curtailed.

The Apostles resolve both problems by having Greek-speaking Jews select seven men to take over the ministry of caring for the widows. The Apostles lay hands on the chosen seven and pray over them. And thus begins a new ordained ministry in the church—the diaconate. It has been well said that “necessity is the mother of invention.”

The reading also underlines how the first leaders of the church come to realize that true Gospel living involves caring for the poor.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Additional Reading

Fr. Clement D. Thiboddeau (Portland Diocese)

Deacons are chosen for the ministry of service

SECOND READING—Racism rears its ugly head even in the very first days of the Christiancommunity! A solution has to be found so that no one in the community will be neglectedwhile,at the same time,giving due priority to the preaching of the word. The leaders reach into the community of the ones who feel neglected and find there some persons who will serve. Shared responsibility taken from within the community itself is the solution. Deacons are chosen to act with the authority of the apostles so that human needs will be met.

© 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Mary M. McGlone (National Catholic Reporter)

Looking to the earliest Christians for models to follow today

EXCERPT—A strange dimension of the story is that although the Twelve said that they couldn’t neglect preaching to attend to the dole, we never hear of any of the seven performing that service. The only ones among them whom Luke even mentions later have nothing to do with the table; they actually continue the same prophetic ministry as the Twelve, making them more like successors to the apostles than people with a unique ministry. (Philip goes on to preach to Samaria and Judea and Stephen worked signs and wonders and preached up to the moment of his martyrdom.)

If we want to look to the earliest Christians for models to follow today, we may well decide that their process of decision making is more important for us than the solutions they found for specific problems in their communities. The situation Luke records for us here is one in which the community had increased so much that the original leaders couldn’t adequately serve everyone. People’s needs exceeded the leaders’ capacity to respond and they recognized the situation as a call to adapt their practice and communal structures to their new circumstances.

© 2017 READ MORE. All rights reserved.

Further Study

It is a time of fulfillment as the Church, in the first apostolic act of the Magisterium (St. Peter and the Apostles), appoints deacons to assist in works of mercy for the Jerusalem community (the First Reading).

The Hellenists

The “Hellenists” were Greek culture Jews. Many of the Greek culture Jewish-Christian widows were probably from Roman provinces outside Judea. There were a high number of Hellenist widows in Jerusalem. It was customary for Jews from the Diaspora to return to Jerusalem in their old age to die in the land of their ancestors. Unfortunately, they often left their surviving widows destitute. The Hellenists accused the Jewish-Christians disbursing the food of favoring local Aramaic speaking Jewish widows over the Greek culture Jewish widows.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Division of labor in the community

2 So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve [diakonein] at table.

Dealing with this dispute and others like it was a problem for the Apostles.  Administrative issues concerning the community were taking up too much of the Apostles’ time.  Those problems were taking them away from the most essential part of their ministry that was prayer and preaching the word of God the Son to the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea.  They decided to ordain Spirit-filled men as deacons to serve the community of believers so they would be free to pray and preach.

Between the twelve Apostles and the seven deacons, there was a division of labor within the community.  The Twelve were praying, preaching the Gospel, and offering the Eucharist as the teaching and ministering authority of the Church.  The mission of the seven was to assist the Twelve, especially in works of charity.  However, the division of labor did not mean the deacons were not also proclaiming the Gospel, a duty of all Christians.  The noun “deacon” (diakonos), which St. Paul will use in Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13, is from a Greek word that means “one who serves.”  St. Paul will advise St. Timothy on the selection of deacons, suggesting the same kind of critical examination of their character (1 Tim 3:8-10, 12-13; also see Tit 1:5-9 CCC 1554).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The laying on of hands

The Apostles ordained seven men by “the laying on of hands,” a means of transferring power.  The ritual act of “laying-on-of-hands” was a transfer of power/authority that was also part of the ordination ritual for the Levitical lesser ministers (Num 8:10), the commissioning of Joshua (Num 27:18), and the symbolic transfer of life for atonement or consecration in the sacrificial rites (Ex 29:10).  The seven men are the Church’s first deacons, and it is clear from this passage that the diaconate is a sacred office of apostolic origin.  In about AD 107, St. Ignatius Bishop of Antioch will write: “Let everyone revere the deacons as Jesus Christ, the bishop as the image of the Father, and the presbyters as the senate of God and the assembly of the Apostles.  For without them, one cannot speak of the Church” (Ad Trall. 3.1).

The Catholic Church teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate/bishops and presbyterate/priests) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all conferred by an act of ordination that is the Sacrament of Holy Orders (see CCC 1554).  For the laying-on-of-hands in the sacramental rites of the Church today, see CCC 699, 1150, 1288, 1504, 1538, 1558, and 1573.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises. (Psalm 33:2)

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This psalm applauds God’s fidelity.


Further Study

In the Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist invites us to join in a hymn of praise to God, who created the universe. The psalmist assures us when we place our faith and trust in God and show Him reverence, He will dispose His mercy to those of us who seek His gracious help.

God deserves our praise

Palm 33 begins with an invitation to the congregation to praise the LORD (Ps 33: 1-2) and continues with the reasons why God deserves our praise (Ps 33: 4-5, 18-19). We should praise God because of the constancy and consistency of His word and because we can trust Him to fulfill His promises. All God’s works are righteous and just, and He shows the earth His compassion and mercy. Finally, the psalmist says we should praise God because His protection is over those who fear to offend Him and who trust in His divine providence.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

1 Peter 2:4-9

God’s house and people

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

SECOND READING—The author tells his readers that their high standing in God’s eyes more than compensates for their low standing in the eyes of society. These ‘resident aliens’ may be rejected by the world but they are precious in God’s eyes. These ‘nobodies’ are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people God claims as his own.” The author is saying to a people who may be feeling that they do not belong, that they very much belong to God. The reading reminds those who are homeless that they have a home in God.

A ‘stumbling block’ (Isaiah 8:4) seeks to convey notions of strength and challenge in adversity. The reference to “the rejected stone becoming the cornerstone” (Ps 118:2) explains how Israel was considered insignificant by the empires over the centuries. The Christians in hostile Asia-Minor will be a ‘stumbling block’ and a ‘rejected stone’ in their environment. Recall that Peter is writing to a community living in an unbelieving and often hostile environment.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Additional Reading

Fr. Clement D. Thiboddeau (Portland Diocese)

Christ is the cornerstone on which we rest

SECOND READING—With the image of a stone to represent Christ, Peter shows that Christ is both the foundation of faith for those who believe and a rock wall standing in the way of faith for those who choose not to believe. But we have become the new people of God, a chosen race, established on the royalty of Jesus Christ, sharing in the priestly ministry of Christ the High Priest of the New Covenant. Only when our faith is solidly built on the rock which is Christ can we exult in this new stature and exercise the priestly privilege of worship. If we did not all share in the priestly role of Christ, we would not be allowed to offer even prayers of praise to the Father.

© 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Mary M. McGlone (National Catholic Reporter)

The community’s priestly vocation

EXCERPT—The first description of the priestly people calls them holy and gives them the task of offering spiritual sacrifices. The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church describes what that means by saying that the faithful people make up the royal priesthood by their participation in the Eucharist, their imbibing of the word of God and their charity (Ad Gentes #15). The second time Peter calls the community a royal priesthood, he explains that their task is to announce the praises of the one who called them from darkness to light, in other words, to preach the Gospel.

This reading builds on the legacy of the Twelve in Acts by calling the community not simply to call forth additional ministers, but to be a community active in ministry. If the reading from Acts focused on the community’s need for additional ministers, 1 Peter is calling that community itself to meet the needs of the whole world.

© 2017 READ MORE. All rights reserved.

Further Study

The Church is the spiritual house built on the “cornerstone” of Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest, and we are His “living stones” that form the structure of His Kingdom of the Church (Second Reading).

Old Testament symbols and references

In this passage from St. Peter’s first letter to the universal Church, he uses Old Testament symbols and Scripture references.  Rock or stone was a metaphor for God in the Old Testament (for example see Dt 32:4-16, 18, 30, 31; 2 Sam 23:3; Is 26:4; 30:29; Ps 1:3; 19:15; 62:3, 7).  St. Peter uses the same symbolism in this passage, connecting the Old Testament to its fulfillment in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.  He combines imagery from several Old Testament passages, including Isaiah 28:16, that speaks of a primary foundation stone and Psalm 118:22 that identifies the promised Messiah as a stone that was first rejected and then accepted as a cornerstone or foundation stone to build the Kingdom of the Church and a New Covenant.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Living stones

IPeter compares both Christ and Christians to “living stones” that build up the Body of Christ, the Church.  Christ is the “living stone” that was rejected by His people (Ps 118:22; Acts 4:10-12) but chosen and precious to God (c.f., Mt 3:17; 17:5; Lk 1:31-33; 9:15).  Baptized believers also become “living stones” that are incorporated into Christ’s Kingdom by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Baptism.  The Sacrament of Baptism consecrates them to be part of a “spiritual house” that is the Church and to a “holy priesthood” serving that “house.”  This common priesthood unites Christ to all His members who participate in the “priesthood of believers” who offer spiritual sacrifices that become the living presence of Christ with His Church (see CCC 1141, 1179).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus as the cornerstone

St. Peter supports his theme of Christ’s acceptance and rejection with quotes from passages from the Old Testament.  He quotes Isaiah 28:16 from the Greek Septuagint (LXX): Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame, but which Peter has adapted to his message.  Through His death and resurrection, Christ became the “cornerstone” of God’s people, a stone that is both precious and chosen, and those who believe in Christ will “not be put to shame” (verse 6) or disgraced.  However, Peter writes, the value of Christ is only for those who have faith: Therefore, its value is for you who have faith (verse 7A).

The theme of acceptance and rejection continues in the next two verses, which are quotes and allusions from Psalm 118:22 LXX in verse 7, Isaiah 8:14 in verse 8, and allusions to Exodus 19:5-6, and Isaiah 43:19-21 in 1 Pt 2:9-10.   “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” is a quote from Psalm 118:22.  It is the same passage Jesus applied to Himself (Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17) and which Peter quoted to the Jewish Sanhedrin in his trial.  He identifies Jesus as the “cornerstone” and defiantly tells the Jewish leaders that they are “the builders” who rejected Christ the “cornerstone” and Messiah.

1 Pt 2:8 is an allusion to Isaiah 8:14.  1 Pt 2:9 recalls Israel’s divine commissioning as God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation at Mt. Sinai from Exodus 19:5-6 and the promised “something new” in the prophecy of a “chosen people” from Isaiah 43:19-21.  When the Jews (the “builders” of the Old Covenant) rejected Jesus and His Gospel of salvation, they “stumbled” and lost their prerogatives that are now transferred to the Christians of the “new Israel” (CCC 877).  Christians are anointed through the Sacrament of Baptism by the Holy Spirit to a “royal priesthood” (see Ex 19:6) to serve and worship God in Christ, continuing the priestly functions of His life and His mission.  Christians are a “holy nation,” chosen by God as His own possession (Ex 19:6; Mal 3:17) in virtue of Christian Baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The titles in verse 9 not only identify the unity of the Church’s relationship with God but its responsibility in the world.  God has called us out of the “darkness” of sin into the “light” of Christ (Jn 1:9; 9:12).  It is a message of “light” that He calls us to share with the world.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

John 14:1-12

Detail from Jesus saying farewell to his eleven remaining disciples, from the Maesta by Duccio, 1308–1311.

Jesus as the way, truth and life

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

GOSPEL— The setting for this Gospel is Jesus’s last meal with his disciples during which he speaks about going away to his Father. Jesus assures his disciples that he will not abandon them. Though he will be physically absent from them, he will remain with them in a new way.

At this time, neither Thomas nor Phillip understands the new way that Jesus is talking about. In response to Thomas, Jesus says he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus is the Way by which we travel to the fullness of God. United to Jesus, we enter into the life of God. Jesus—as the Way—includes the Way of the Cross.

Jesus is the Truth. He not only speaks the truth, but the fullness of truth resides in him alone. The Truth which Jesus offers is not ‘catechism truth’ or some system of thought. Rather, it is a person. Jesus reveals to us the true nature of God and the truth about humanity.

Jesus is the Life. Our life is totally wrapped up with Jesus through Baptism and the Eucharist. “In him, we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Philip’s question gives Jesus the opportunity to speak about the closeness and intimacy that exist between him and the Father. The intimacy is so close that to see Jesus is to see the Father, and to ‘know’ Jesus is to experience the Father.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Additional Reading

Fr. Clement D. Thiboddeau (Portland Diocese)

“I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

GOSPEL— In John’s Gospel, we find a lengthy farewell discourse which Jesus delivers at the Last Supper. (Remember, there is no “Bread and Wine”scene at the Supper in John; instead, we are given the “sacrament”of the Washing of Feet!) For the next three Sundays, the Church chooses passages from this discourse for its Gospel proclamations. There is an air of sadness, of leave taking, of separation.

But this departure is more of a reinsertion of Jesus into the very heart of the community! He will be with his followers in the depth of their spirit; He will be working through them wherever they go in time and space. His going leads to a presence that is even more real than the physical presence in his earthly body. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ will be in all of the disciples, all who will ever believe in him.

The exultation and glorification of Jesus comes as God’s gift to him because of his self-surrender, his total acceptance of the Father’s will, his entire submission to the will of God. There is an essential link between the glory given by the Father to Christ and Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. The two go together. The Church cannot look for any other glory than that which was given to Jesus: the kind of glory that follows after a total giving of self to God. The Church receives power from God when it surrenders itself to death and to crucifixion.

The Second Coming, which the other Gospels describe as something that will take place in some future time, appears to be fulfilled in John’s Gospel by the imparting of the Holy Spirit. Time and again Jesus “breathes” his Spirit onto the disciples; He goes on to describe the effect: “Peace!” Christ has already come to those who love him and who have accepted his Spirit in their lives. Their lives are now governed by the dynamisms of the Spirit of Christ. They are no longer acting on their own or by their own energies. Christ is in them!

Thomas wants to know the “way,” that is the“physical road”to be followed so as to be with Jesus wherever he is going. But Jesus speaks of himself as the “Way,” the means of access to God. He is the instrument by which we can have contact with God. We do not need to go anywhere, geographically. We allow him to give us his Spirit, and we will have immediate access to God.

Jesus is also the “Truth.” We who live in a post-Enlightenment era tend to think of truth as an abstract statement which has inner conformity with reality. The truth here does not refer to an intellectual statement that is not false! Jesus is the Truth of God! He is the Real Presence of God. God can really be found in him! There is a real identity between Jesus and the Father. He is also the “Life.”In him, abides the life of God which he can give so that others too will live of God’s very life. He is God’s life to be shared.

Notice that Jesus’ response to Philip is in the form of a question: “I have been with you all this time and you still do not know me?” It is not a reprimand; Jesus does not blame Philip. He merely asks that his faith become more complete! It is an invitation to interpret the evidence Philip has already seen and to commit himself to its conclusions.

The Church is invited by Jesus to the same kind of commitment. The “greater things”to which Jesus refers have to do with greater numbers of people, in more places, who will come to faith in Jesus through the ministry of the disciples. When the Church assumes the works of Jesus as its own works, “greater things” not yet seen begin to happen.

© 2017Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Mary M. McGlone (National Catholic Reporter)

Anything is possible

EXCERPT—When we look at our world we can well feel that the problems of evil and injustice are insurmountable. That’s a reasonable conclusion for anyone who does not have faith. But Christian faith is founded on trust that God works in history to bring about the unimaginable. Those who choose to accept Christ’s invitation to place their faith in him and the Father can believe that the true way to life is found by following him through the confrontation with evil into a victory that only God can bring about. The Gospel tells us that Christ gave his life for us and has entrusted us with his mission. In turn he asks for our trust so that as we take on his mission we will bring it to fruition in new and greater ways, ways as faithful and creative as those devised by our Christian ancestors.

It will take a while for the disciples to understand what Jesus was telling them. From their day to our own the idea of “many dwelling places” has fired imaginations with many images. But if we hear this in the light of John’s patterns of thought we realize that Jesus was not talking about architecture but presence. Because he dwelt in the Father and the Father in him, his promise was that he was the way for his disciples to do the same. Their faith, their committed union with him would bring them into the same relationship with the Father that he himself enjoyed.

© 2017 READ MORE. All rights reserved.

Further Study

In the Gospel Reading, from Jesus’ last discourse on the night of the Last Supper, He announces that He is “the Way” to the Father.  The Old Covenant prophets, priests, and kings of Israel/Judah, as God’s anointed representatives, were responsible for showing “the way” the people of God must follow to continue in fellowship with Yahweh.  Jesus, God’s New Covenant mediator, redefines “the way” in Himself.  He is the only path to salvation and eternal life, and “now” is the time of fulfillment.

Many dwellings in Father's house

2 In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

The Greek word for “places to live” or “dwelling places” is mone and can refer to a night stop or resting-place for a traveler on a journey.  St. Jerome, in his Latin translation, used the word mansio, meaning halting-place.  The most likely meaning Jesus is using in this passage is that in Heaven, there is a prepared final resting-place for the disciples and all believers when we come to the end of our faith journey.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.  4 Where I am going, you know the way.”

These words are not only addressed to those in the Upper Room but also to all faithful believers of every generation and every age.   There is a double meaning in Jesus’ use of the word “return.”  He is speaking of His Second Advent or Parousia at the end of the world (see 1 Cor 4:5; 11:25; 1 Thes 4:16-17; 1 Jn 2:28).  However, He is also referring to His greeting to each soul at the end of their journey of life on earth.  In John 13:33c, Jesus told the disciples that where He is going, they cannot come.  Peter responds to this statement by asking in verse 36: “Master, where are you going?” to which Jesus replies: “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.”  In John 14:1-12, Jesus provides more information about what they will find when they can follow Him.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Thomas is perplexed

5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”  6 Jesus said to him, “I AM the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Thomas is perplexed, just as the rest of the disciples must have been perplexed.  He asks for clarification by picking up the challenge of the preceding verse, and Jesus responds by telling him that He is Himself the Way to the Father. Verse 6 is the sixth use of “I AM” with a predicate nominative in St. John’s Gospel (also see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25).  The use of I AM is a reference to the divine name “Yahweh” (Ex 3:14). Every time Jesus uses this expression, He is stating His divinity and His oneness with God the Father.  Jesus also expresses His oneness and unity of will with the Father in the three-fold expression of His identity as “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”  In this statement, Jesus effectively sums up His entire Messianic mission as the promised Messiah, fulfilling His mission to the Covenant people as God’s holy anointed Prophet, Priest, and King (CCC 436, 1547).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus is the way to the Father

The Old Covenant prophets, priests and kings of Israel/Judah, as God’s anointed representatives, were responsible for showing “the way” the people of the Covenant must follow to continue in communion with Yahweh.  Now Jesus is redefining “the Way.”  There are five ways in which Jesus is “the Way” to the Father:

  • Through His teachings: by keeping faithful to His teachings, we have His assurance that we will reach heaven.
  • Through faith in Him: it is Jesus’ promise in John 3:15 that …so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.
  • Through His example: no one can go to the Father without living a life in imitation of Christ.
  • Through His merits: Christ makes it possible for us to enter Heaven through His merits, won for us in the suffering He offered for our sake on the cross.
  • Through the Father: Jesus reveals God the Father to us with whom He is united in His divinity.

The destination of “the Way” is eternal life with the Father.  This “life” is a gift the Father has given to the Son (Jn 5:26), and the Son alone can give it to those who believe in Him (Jn 10:28).  Jesus’ gift of natural life to Lazarus was a sign of the eternal reality behind Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25-26).

No one comes to the Father except through me.
In this statement, Jesus affirms that there is no other path linking Heaven and earth.  He is the only means of salvation.  Reflecting on this passage from John 14:6, St. Josemaria Escriva wrote in Friends of God: “Jesus is the way.  Behind him on this earth of ours, he has left the clear outlines of his footprints.  They are indelible signs which neither the erosion of time nor the treachery of the evil one have been able to erase” (Friends of God, page 127). What we must do to know “the Way” is to faithfully follow those footprints.

St. Peter will affirm this truth in his address to the Jewish High Priest and the Sanhedrin in Acts 2:11-12, referencing Psalms 118:22 when he says, “This is the stone which you the builders, rejected but which has become the cornerstone.  Only in him is there salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.”  God would never condemn those ignorant of Christ’s gift of salvation to an eternity of damnation.  Those who never had a chance to hear the Gospel of salvation will be saved by righteously living the natural law in obedience to the dictates of their conscience, which calls all men to a life of justice and mercy (see Rom 1:16-32, 2:14-16 and CCC# 847-48).  However, even those souls can merit eternal salvation through the redeeming work of Christ the Savior.

Is it fair of God to demand this exclusivity by making Jesus the only means to salvation, and for the Catholic Church to declare Outside the Church there is no salvation (see CCC page 224, at the end of CCC 845)?  While it is true that in this teaching, Christianity is indeed, in a sense, exclusive since it denies that other religious leaders like Buddha or Mohammed can provide a means of salvation.  Christianity does not accept the premise of ecumenism that “on the mountaintop, all paths meet.”  According to the teachings of the New Testament and the Catholic Church, while other religions can provide sound teaching on moral living and a sincere search for God, only Jesus’ path offers salvation.  This exclusiveness is, however, mitigated by several factors:

  • The “Way” is open to everyone (Rom 10:9-13; also see Mt 28:19 and Lk 24:47).
  • Following the “Way” of Jesus sets no preconditions except turning away from sin, turning to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and living in the sacraments of the New Covenant administered by His Church (Baptism, Confirmation, etc. see Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5; CCC# 845-48; 1127-29).
  • There is no time limit to accepting the “Way.”  One can come as a little child or on one’s deathbed.
  • Although God binds us to His Sacraments and His plan of salvation, He is not.  God can choose to offer salvation to whomever He desires, even to someone who may never have heard the Gospel message but to whom Christ has revealed Himself some other way.  “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church:  but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 16, 1964; also see Rom 2:12-16 and CCC# 847-48).  Even in this case, salvation is through Christ alone.

The “Way” of Jesus is God’s one true path.  God has declared it as such.  Therefore, we should not complain about exclusivity and attempt to “play God” by suggesting alternatives to God’s one plan to provide a remedy for sin and salvation.  Instead, we should be grateful to the Most Holy Trinity for providing a way out of the sinful condition that is the inheritance from Adam of every human being.  The “Way” is the New Covenant; it is the Covenant of Peace Yahweh promised in Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 37:24-26.  Before the believers adopted the title “Christian” at the Church of Antioch in the first century AD, New Covenant believers referred to the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ as “the Way.”  The title “The Way” appears for the New Covenant Church seven times in Acts of Apostles (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, and 22).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus is the Truth who calls us to truth

The Old Testament states that God is the source of all truth (see Ps 119:142; Pro 8:7; 2 Sam 8:7; etc.).  In Jesus the Messiah, the complete truth of God has been made manifest to humankind.  In the Sacrament of Confirmation, professing Christians take the vow to “live in truth” in the sincerity and simplicity of a life that conforms to Jesus’ life. St John wrote: If we say that we share in God’s life while we are living in darkness, we are lying because we are not living the truthBut if we live in light, as he is in light, we have a share in one another’s life, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:6-7).  Also, see CCC# 2465-70

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus is the Life

Jesus is the Life because it is only through Him that we have the promise of rebirth into the family of God through our Baptism and the gift of eternal life at the end of our journey to salvation (John 3:1-21).  St. Augustine wrote that in this passage, it is as though Jesus is asking each of us: “By which route do you want to go?  I am the Way.  To where do you want to go?  I am the Truth.  Where do you want to remain? I am the Life.  Every man can attain an understanding of the Truth and the Life; but not all find the Way.  The wise of this world realize that God is eternal life and knowable truth; but the Word of God, who is Truth and Life joined to the Father, has become the Way by taking a human nature.  Make your way contemplating his humility, and you will reach God” (De verbis Domini sermones, 54 as quoted from the Navarra Commentary: Gospel of St. John, page 185).

In verse 7, Jesus tells the disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him” (underlining added).
“To know,” yada in Hebrew, is covenant language.  The Old Testament uses this word for Israel’s acknowledgment of Yahweh as her sole God and King and of Israel in her covenant relationship as His Bride.  God promises through His prophet Jeremiah “I will give them a heart to know me” (Jer 24:7; also see Ex 29:46; 33:13; Dt 7:9; Jer 24:7; 31:34; Hos 13:14; Zec 2:9, 11; 4:9; etc.). This theme in Jesus’ last discourse reflects the significant covenant atmosphere of the Last Supper and makes true knowledge of Yahweh part of the New Covenant.  Jesus is insisting that they must know Him even as Old Covenant Israel knew Yahweh, but from now on in the New Covenant, it is Jesus who will be acknowledged by New Covenant believers as “My Lord and my God” (see John 20:28).  Jesus is beginning to reveal a profound mystery to the disciples concerning His relationship to God the Father.  It is a mystery at this point that they simply cannot understand; it is the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus' supernatural miracles

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.  11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.

Jesus rebukes Philip.  He has already shown Philip “works” that should be evidence enough for him to believe that He and the Father are One.  Some of Jesus’ supernatural miracles include:

  • Walking on the water of the Galilee (Mt 14:22-23; Mk 6:45-52; Jn 6:19)
  • Commanding the wind (Mt 8:23-26; Mk 4:37-39; Lk 8:22-24)
  • Feeding the multitude (Mt 14:13-21; 15:32-38; Mk 6:32-44; 8:1-10; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-15)
  • Forgiving sins (Mt 9:2; Mk 2:5; Lk 5:20; 7:47-48)
  • Curing the blind; even someone blind from birth (Mt 9:27-30; Jn 9:1-7)
  • Raising the dead (Mt 9:18-19, 23-26; Mk 5:22-24, 41-43; Lk 8:40-42, 49-56; Jn 11:43-44)

Only God can control nature and give life.  Jesus chastises Philip for not recognizing His divine condition through these signs even though He has the nature and physical appearance of a man.

12 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Jesus promises His Apostles that their works will be even greater than the ones they have witnessed in His ministry. It is not that the Apostles will be greater than Jesus.  It is instead that the Apostles’ power comes from Christ, and after His Ascension, He will do even greater works through them as His emissaries to the world.  St. Augustine writes that Jesus is saying, “I shall then do greater works than now; greater, by him who believes in me, than I now do by myself without him” (The Gospel of John, 72.1).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Reflection Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way? Which part of the Passion story speaks to you most this year? Why?

2. In the first reading, Peter’s congregation is “cut to the heart” as they hear him preach. Has this kind of conviction or spiritual awakening ever happened to you as a result of a homily or as a result of some other event in your life?

3. What are forms of slavery (second reading) in our world today? What if anything, can we do to oppose slavery?

4. What are traits of a good shepherd? How can you be a good shepherd to others?5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Questions for Discussion

by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau

1. Do you have any sense that you know who God is? How have you come to this knowledge? Was it something you were born with? Who helped you acquire this experience? In what way do you know God better for knowing Jesus better? How can you get to know Jesus better?

2. How would you respond to a person who says he believes only what he can see and touch? Are the five senses the only avenues for knowledge? Things like love and honor and goodness cannot be seen or touched, yet they surely exist, don’t they?

3. Discuss the meaning of the words chosen race, royal priesthood in the passage from the Letter of Peter. Do you have a sense that these words do apply to you, to the Church community? What difference does it make when we believe in those truths?

© 2017Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Call to Action

Be aware of the things that worry and upset you. Try to do a better job of dealing with worry.

Shared Prayer

Jesus, you are my Way, my Truth and my Life. Help me to live accordingly and not allow other things and persons to take priority over me.

Closing Prayer

Jesus,You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.Help us daily to be a little more aware of this great belief.Thank you preparing a permanent place for us in Heaven. Amen.

SUNDAY VOICES

Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.


Introduction to 5th Sunday of Easter readings

EXCERPT — We are reminded today that spreading the word about Christ did not go smoothly in the early church. Understanding and accepting Jesus was a slow and often unsuccessful process. It may seem different now, but if we consider our own questions and struggles with faith, we realize that our commitment is not formed overnight. It is often subject to life circumstances that challenge our faith. There is still work to be done in spreading the good news. If we want to contribute to the effort, we might begin with ourselves.

PENITENTIAL ACT

Lord Jesus, you called your disciples to have faith in you: Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”: Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you have gone to prepare a place for us: Lord, have mercy.

NCR SUNDAY RESOURCESJoan DeMerchant


Doing the work of Christ

EXCERPT – We should expect to encounter God in the midst of our work, and we should work in such a way that it is obvious to others that we are followers of Christ. After all, if we appear the same as everyone else in our day to day activities, if our faith does not some how set us apart, it is questionable how real our faith is. So wherever we work, whether it is in an office, whether our work now is going to school, whether our work is caring for a home or driving a truck or working on an assembly line or in a bank, whatever job we have, we need to work in such a way that it manifests that we are followers of Jesus.

RELATED HOMILIES BY FR. SIGMA: Pope Benedict in the USA, The Coffin

BUILDING ON THE WORDFr. George Sigma


Mary is the Mother of God

EXCERPT – We cannot separate the humanity of Jesus from the divinity of Christ. Although the New Testament shows a certain progression in its assertions concerning the divine nature of Christ, there wasn’t a time in his life when Jesus was not truly and fully the Son of God. In our human way of speaking, we can say that Mary is the Mother of God because she cannot be the mother only of one part of who Jesus is. In the Catholic tradition, dating back to the Council of Ephesus (431 CE), the Church has called Mary the “Mother of God,”not to define who Mary isbut to assert the fullness of the divine nature of Jesus. One way to proclaim that Jesus possesses the fullness of the divine nature in addition to the human nature is to say: “Mary gave birth to God!”

Echoing God’s WordSRev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)


Jesus is present in his absence

EXCERPT – Once that belief becomes a reality in one’s heart, a true relationship is established between the believer and Jesus. Now one can approach Jesus in faith, and not demand a sign. Now all that remains is to carry on the work of Jesus, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own power. Precisely what is it that makes a believer’s works “greater” than those of Jesus? As Fr. Francis Mooney says, the greatness comes from the very fact of his absence! Jesus is still present – in his absence! And as the number of members of the believing Body of Christ increase, the works of Jesus increase proportionately, because now he can spread his word and works of love through millions of believers!

MASS HOMILIESDeacon Joseph Pasquella (Confraternity of Penitents)


The key to this Sunday’s Gospel

EXCERPT — The long conversation (Jn 13:1 to 17:26) between Jesus and his disciples at the last supper, on the eve of his apprehension and death, is the Testament he left us. In it Jesus expresses his last desire concerning life in community for his disciples. It was a friendly conversation, which the Disciple remembered well. The Evangelist wishes to convey that Jesus desired to prolong to the utmost that final meeting of friends, a moment of great intimacy. The same happens today. There are various kinds of conversations. There is the superficial conversation that leaves everything up in the air and reveals emptiness in the persons involved. Then there is the deep conversation that touches the heart. All of us, at some time, experience these moments of friendly sharing which expand our hearts and strengthen us in times of difficulty. This kind of conversation helps us to grow in trust and to overcome fear. These five chapters (Jn 13 to 17) are also an example of the way the communities of the Beloved Disciple catechised. The questions of the three disciples, Thomas (Jn 14:5), Philip (Jn 14:8) and Judas Thaddaeus (Jn 14:22), were also the questions of the communities of the late first century. Jesus’ replies to the three were like a mirror where the communities found an answer to their doubts and difficulties. Thus, chapter 14 was (and still is) a catechesis that teaches the communities how to live without the physical presence of Jesus.

THE ORDER OF CARMELITESLectio Divina: Sundays of Lent


Peter spreads a contagious state of grace

EXCERPT — “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. Those who know God have everything. Only God is enough.” St. Teresa of Avila wrote that and kept it in her prayer book. Who knows when she wrote it or how often she prayed it. Surely, she prayed it as an act of faith during the years when she was rejected by her own community, exiled and forced to live in obscurity. Did she share it with her dear friend, St. John of the Cross, when he was tried by the Inquisition and imprisoned for implementing her teachings about reform?…Teresa’s prayer was an adaptation of Jesus’ invitation to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTERMary M. McGlone, CSJ


Who inspires you to serve like Jesus?

EXCERPT — One excellent model of that call to faith and service is celebrated one day before this Sunday. May 9 is the feast of St. Louise de Marillac, who devoted her life to the care of others, especially people who were poor, sick and most vulnerable, caring for them in their homes and in hospitals. St. Louise imitated Christ through her works. Likewise, she wisely realized that service needed to go beyond her life. She organized women in her community, co-founding the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent de Paul. Today, these women continue St. Louise’s legacy and mission by serving worldwide, providing care to people with various challenges, including sick and aging populations, migrants, people with disabilities and addictions and people living in poverty. Today’s readings inspire us to live selflessly and look for models like St. Louise to inspire our faith and work.

AMERICA MAGAZINEJamie Waters


Deacons

EXCERPT — If there are problems with our preaching, it is not only that we are too busy doing other things—although administrative duties can consume a pastor in any parish. A far bigger problem is this: even the best of homilies can be sloughed off because it is tied to the very nature of the presiding office, the task, the business of priestcraft. A significant charism of deacons in the contemporary church is related to the fact that most of them are married, have other places of work, have had an active career, and have no reason to give service to the church other than their faith. The work of priests, even their preaching, can be subconsciously passed off as “what they have to do.” But when a deacon visits the sick, when a mail carrier or a business person gets into the pulpit, something else is going on. And people know this. It is not just “their job.”

SUNDAY WEB SITEFather John Kavanaugh, SJ

THIS WEEK’S CATECHISM EXCERPTS

Visit Doctrinal Homily Outlines for further commentary and catechetical connections.

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.”

From the Homiletic Directory
CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 661, 1025-1026, 2795: Christ opens for us the way to heaven
CCC 151, 1698, 2614, 2466: believing in Jesus
CCC 1569-1571: the order of deacons
CCC 782, 803, 1141, 1174, 1269, 1322: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood”

Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper

2746 When “his hour” came, Jesus prayed to the Father.43 His prayer, the longest transmitted by the Gospel, embraces the whole economy of creation and salvation, as well as his death and Resurrection. The prayer of the Hour of Jesus always remains his own, just as his Passover “once for all” remains ever present in the liturgy of his Church.

2747 Christian Tradition rightly calls this prayer the “priestly” prayer of Jesus. It is the prayer of our high priest, inseparable from his sacrifice, from his passing over (Passover) to the Father to whom he is wholly “consecrated.”44

2748 In this Paschal and sacrificial prayer, everything is recapitulated in Christ:45 God and the world; the Word and the flesh; eternal life and time; the love that hands itself over and the sin that betrays it; the disciples present and those who will believe in him by their word; humiliation and glory. It is the prayer of unity.

2749 Jesus fulfilled the work of the Father completely; his prayer, like his sacrifice, extends until the end of time. The prayer of this hour fills the end-times and carries them toward their consummation. Jesus, the Son to whom the Father has given all things, has given himself wholly back to the Father, yet expresses himself with a sovereign freedom46 by virtue of the power the Father has given him over all flesh. The Son, who made himself Servant, is Lord, the Pantocrator. Our high priest who prays for us is also the one who prays in us and the God who hears our prayer.

2750 By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us: “Our Father!” His priestly prayer fulfills, from within, the great petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: concern for the Father’s name;47 passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);48 the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation;49 and deliverance from evil.50

2751 Finally, in this prayer Jesus reveals and gives to us the “knowledge,” inseparably one, of the Father and of the Son,51 which is the very mystery of the life of prayer.

Christ opens a way for us to heaven

He ascended in heaven

661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.538 “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”539 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness.540 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.541

The sacraments of faith

1125 For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.

1126 Likewise, since the sacraments express and develop the communion of faith in the Church, the lex orandi is one of the essential criteria of the dialogue that seeks to restore the unity of Christians.47

Who art in heaven

2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,56 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.57 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,58 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.59

Believing in Jesus

To believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God

151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him.18 The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.”19 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”20 Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.21

Life in Christ

1698 The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ himself, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”24 It is by looking to him in faith that Christ’s faithful can hope that he himself fulfills his promises in them, and that, by loving him with the same love with which he has loved them, they may perform works in keeping with their dignity:

I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head, and that you are one of his members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours: his spirit, his heart, his body and soul, and all his faculties. You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God. You belong to him, as members belong to their head. And so he longs for you to use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father.25For to me, to live is Christ.26

Jesus teaches us how to pray

2614 When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to “ask in his name.”78 Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”79 Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.80

Living in the truth

2465 The Old Testament attests that God is the source of all truth. His Word is truth. His Law is truth. His “faithfulness endures to all generations.”255 Since God is “true,” the members of his people are called to live in the truth.256

2466 In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. “Full of grace and truth,” he came as the “light of the world,” he is the Truth.257 “Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”258 The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know “the truth [that] will make you free” and that sanctifies.259 To follow Jesus is to live in “the Spirit of truth,” whom the Father sends in his name and who leads “into all the truth.”260 To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes or No.'”261

The order of deacons

1569 “At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands ‘not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.”‘53 At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his “diakonia.”54

1570 Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way.55 The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all.56 Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.57

1571 Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy,”58 while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church’s mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should “be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate.”59

A chosen race, a royal priesthood

Characteristics of the people of God

782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:

– It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”202

– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”203 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

– This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”

– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”

– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”204 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.205

– Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.206 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

– Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”207

The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy

1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, “by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices.”9 This “common priesthood” is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:10

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,” have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.11

The Liturgy of the Hours

1174 The mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passover, which we celebrate in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, “the divine office.”46 This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to “pray constantly,” is “so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God.”47 In this “public prayer of the Church,”48 the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in “the form approved” by the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours “is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father.49


SOURCES/CREDITS:
Fr. Tobin Commentary Text: ©2019 Fr. Eamon Tobin, Commentaries & Faith Sharing PDF Handout. Images, videos, scripture verses, and other material which accompany Fr. Tobin’s text are curated by LectioTube.com. They do not necessarily reflect Fr. Tobin’s opinions or preferences. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission.
Agape Bible Study excerpts by Michal E. Hunt are used with permission. In addition to the website’s 54 studies and hundreds of resources, their Facebook page has short lessons on the day’s Gospel reading.
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